In West Palm Beach, a person commits theft when he or she knowingly uses or obtains, or endeavors to use or to obtain another person’s property permanently or temporarily. Florida state laws differentiate between grand theft and petit theft. The type of theft is determined by the value of property. Property valued over $100,000 qualifies as a charge of grand theft in the first degree, while property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 becomes a grand theft in the second degree. Theft of property valued between $300 and $20,000 becomes a grand theft in the third degree. Any thievery that does qualify as a felony according to the Florida state law becomes a petit theft. There are several ways a theft attorney can defend you against theft charges in West Palm Beach, Fl. Here are some common thievery Defenses that a theft lawyer may be able to use:
The Specific Intent Defense
One of the common defenses for thievery is that the convicted person lacked the specific intent needed to commit the crime. Remember theft is a specific intent crime, meaning a person must have some requisite purpose of having committed the act that constitutes a crime. This requisite purpose or intent is usually to deprive the owner their property permanently. If the convicted person just borrowed property, then they cannot be charged with thievery.
Claim of Right or Ownership of Property
A person accused of thievery may have a valid defense if they can prove they had a valid claim of the property they took or the property belonged to them. This defense is not straightforward, and the convicted person must have adequate evidence to support their claim.
This defense requires the convicted person to prove that he or she was intoxicated at the time alleged thievery occurred. Thus, they could not form the requisite intent to steal (for example, in their intoxicated state, they mistakenly thought the item belonged to them). This defense is viable regardless of the type of intoxication including alcohol, chemicals or drugs. However, the defendant still needs to provide proof.
Return of Property as a Defense
Returning of property can provide a defense to theft if the convicted person can prove that he or she had the intent of returning the property at the time it was taken and actually could so. In other words, by establishing the defendant was only borrowing the property. The end goal of this defense is usually a plea deal or reduction of penalties in a case.
Defense of Entrapment
The defense of entrapment is used when a person committed a crime but was induced to so by someone so as to accuse the target. In a thievery case, the defense of entrapment could apply if the intent of stealing came from the entrapping person. The entrapping person is thus held responsible for the thievery.
Defending a person against criminal thievery charges requires a lot of thought, investigation, and careful planning. None of these defenses are valuable if they are not pleaded in the right way. Therefore, if you have been charged with any type of theft, you should consult an experienced criminal attorney immediately.